scarcely knew, whom he had scarcely noticed before, who
had always seemed rather plain to him-—that look stabbed
him now, so that abruptly he turned away.
She was a plain woman, or on the plain side, anyway, he
had always thought, when he had noticed her on the streets
of Bardsville. Walking down the street there, alone or with
one of the sisters, she had never seemed to be the sort of
woman people would notice much at all. She and her sisters
—they all looked alike in their black or grey dresses buttoned
up to the throat with that single row of small, severe buttons
—had moved decorously down the street, with their eyes fixed
on the pavement a little ahead of them, or into the distance,
and people had said, now and then: *' There go the Ball girls.
Old Professor Ball." And they told each other: "He's got
some book learning, now I tell you, the Scriptures and in the
original tongues, too; and Shakespeare, you just name it.
He knows it by heart. Shakespeare, now, he named all his
girls with names out of Shakespeare's plays."
" Yes, sir," Professor Ball had said to Mr. Munn after break-
fast that first day he had ever been at the Ball place, "I
named them all out of Shakespeare's plays. Every last one of
them—Portia, Viola, Cordelia, Perdita, Isabella. Noble names,
every last one, names a woman could be proud of. That's
what I told my wife when the first one came; there's no
nobler name than Portia for any female. She wanted to
name her Mary Lee. After her own mother. But I pointed
out to her all the advantages a girl would have with a name
like Portia. Something to live up to. A help in forming a
Christian character. She said her mother was a Christian
character, and I said, 'I'm not denying that; she's as fine a
Christian character as has been produced locally in my time,
but you can't expect imperfect Nature working in one small
county to compete with the masterpieces of the immortal
bard/ She said she hadn't thought of it exactly that way.
So we named the infant Portia. And we never regretted it.
" And all the rest of them, when they came along. Noble
names, every last one. The youngest, Isabella, now we almost